Why is your New-born sneezing so much?
As the parent of a new-born, you are probably on alert for any signs that your baby is getting sick. You may wonder whether sneezing is the sign your baby is getting their first cold. Should you take them to the doctor if they don’t have any other symptoms?
Worry not, fellow parents of a new-born who sneezes: We’ll get to the bottom of this.
What causes the Sneezing?
There are quite a few reasons why your new-born might be sneezing a lot.
First, you should know that sneezing is a healthy thing to see your new-born doing. It means that their nervous system is working correctly, because sneezing is actually a reflex controlled by the nervous system.
Parents must not worry and should know that it’s completely common for new-borns to sneeze, along with spit up, yawn, gurgle, hiccup, and burp.
Sneezing in infants is a reflex just like it is with adults. The reflex occurs when the nasal passages are irritated.
Unlike a lot of other reflexes like the startle reflex or the Moro reflex, the sneezing reflex is one that sticks around as the baby grows and into adulthood. Everyone needs to sneeze every now and then.
Primarily, new-borns sneeze a lot because they have to. New-borns have smaller nasal passages than adults and may have to literally clear their noses more often than adults do, since they can get clogged more easily.
They sneeze to get rid of anything from breast milk to mucus, smoke, and even dust bunnies in the air. You can help your baby by never smoking around them.
New-borns also breathe through their mouths as part of their development. This can sometimes contribute to the sneezing since they’re still adjusting to breathing through the nose.
Is it more than sneezing?
That said, for new-born babies, sneezing can actually be more than just sneezing. If your new-born is sneezing a lot, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re coming down with a cold.
Babies use sneezing as a natural defense system against the billions of germs they’re greeted with during their introduction to the world. Think of how hard their little immune systems must have to work in meeting great aunt Mildred and the neighbors and that over-zealous grandma at the grocery store.
That’s a lot of germs to be introduced in a very short span of time. So sneezing is just one way that new-borns can try to protect themselves in our germy world.
The sneezing clears out germs and particles that might be trying to infiltrate the baby’s system through the nasal passages before they can get inside and make your baby sick.
When is Sneezing a sign of Sickness?
Sneezing isn’t always just a normal sign of a healthy new-born. Of course, new-borns can also simply get sick. Frequent sneezing in a new-born could be one sign of a respiratory infection.
You should get your new-born checked out by your doctor right away if your new-born is sneezing frequently and has any of these additional symptoms:
- trouble breathing
- refusal to feed
- excessive tiredness
- fever at or above 100.4°F
In some cases, excessive sneezing in new-borns can be one of the signs of a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). This occurs when a mother has abused addictive opiate drugs during her pregnancy.
Symptoms of the syndrome, in addition to sneezing, can include nasal stuffiness, unsustained suck, tremor, and abnormal nipple latch.
If a baby has NAS, they’re essentially experiencing withdrawal syndromes from the drug or drugs that the mother used during her pregnancy. Some of the most commonly abused substances include alcohol, heroin, and methadone.
One of the signs of heroin withdrawal, for example, is excessive sneezing. Doctors are sometimes taught to use a scoring system to look for signs of NAS in a baby with known drug exposure. One of the signs they look for is sneezing three to four times in a row within a 30-minute timespan.
When to Call the Doctor
Baby sneezes by themselves are not a reason to call the doctor. Your baby will sneeze simply as part of the normal way they keep their breathing passages open. However, in combination with other symptoms, it might point to a cold or infection. If your baby is having trouble breathing, is coughing, is sneezing continually, has a fever, isn’t eating as much as usual, or is sleepier than usual, consult your doctor.
Also read – How Influenza affects babies and children?